Polio virus detected in London sewage; no cases reported

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LONDON — The United Kingdom has declared a uncommon “national incident” after traces of the extremely contagious polio virus have been discovered in sewage in London, the federal government mentioned.

Britain, like many developed nations, has been largely polio-free for the reason that Nineteen Eighties as a result of excessive uptake of the vaccine. So far, no cases have been reported.

However, its well being safety company and medical regulator mentioned in a statement Wednesday that authorities had discovered traces of poliovirus in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, as a part of “routine surveillance.” The sewage therapy plant covers a inhabitants near 4 million in the north and east of the capital.

“Investigations are underway after several closely-related viruses were found in sewage samples taken between February and May,” the assertion mentioned.

The detection suggests it’s possible “there has been some spread between closely-linked individuals in North and East London and that they are now shedding the type 2 poliovirus strain in their faeces,” the assertion mentioned.

The sort 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus — versus the wild or naturally occurring pressure — is a weakened type of the stay virus used in oral polio vaccines. Many nations, together with the U.Ok. and United States have moved away from utilizing the oral vaccine as it could possibly unfold to unvaccinated individuals. But it stays frequent in nations akin to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

The vaccine-derived poliovirus detected in the U.Ok. “on rare occasions can cause serious illness, such as paralysis, in people who are not fully vaccinated,” the British well being authorities mentioned.

So far, the polio virus has solely been detected in sewage samples however investigations are underway to ascertain if any neighborhood transmission is going on.

Like different nations, Britain can be grappling with the continuing coronavirus pandemic and monkeypox cases.

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The United Kingdom was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization in 2003 and the final case of untamed or naturally occurring polio contracted was in 1984, in accordance with the federal government.

“Vaccine-derived poliovirus is rare and the risk to the public overall is extremely low,” Vanessa Saliba, marketing consultant epidemiologist at UK Health Security Agency, mentioned in an announcement.

“We are urgently investigating to better understand the extent of this transmission and the NHS has been asked to swiftly report any suspected cases,” she mentioned, including that “no cases have been reported or confirmed so far.”

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and probably deadly infectious illness, which invades the nervous system and spreads primarily by way of contamination by fecal matter.

There is no remedy, however vaccinations for the reason that Nineteen Sixties, principally in childhood, have been a recreation changer permitting many nations to eradicate wild polio. The U.Ok. maintains vaccine protection of greater than 95 p.c, the federal government said, largely by way of a routine childhood immunization program.

The U.Ok. well being safety company says it usually detects between one and three “poliovirus isolates per year” in sewage however they’re usually one-offs and unrelated to one another. “In this instance, the isolates identified between February and June 2022 are genetically related. This has prompted the need to investigate the extent of transmission,” it added.

The most certainly situation is {that a} not too long ago vaccinated particular person entered the U.Ok. from a rustic the place an oral polio vaccine was used. The U.Ok. stopped such oral vaccines in 2004, authorities mentioned.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that “surveillance, vaccination and investment to #EndPolio is critical,” following information of the U.Ok. announcement.

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The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which works to finish all wild and vaccine-related cases of the virus, mentioned though largely eradicated, the illness stays endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It is important that all countries, in particular those with a high volume of travel and contact with polio-affected countries and areas, strengthen surveillance in order to rapidly detect any new virus importation and to facilitate a rapid response,” the group mentioned in a statement.

Meanwhile, well being officers in London are urging mother and father to make sure younger kids are absolutely vaccinated to forestall any outbreak. The National Health Service will start reaching out to folks of youngsters aged below 5 in the capital who should not updated with their vaccinations, the federal government mentioned.

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